February 1961 | Volume 12, Issue 2
Whatever fhe thinks cheap, fhe holds it the duty of an ceconomift to purchafe; in confequence of this maxim, we are incumbered on every fide with ufelefs lumber. The fervants can fcarcely creep to their beds through the chefts and boxes that furround them. The carpenter is always employed in building clofets, fixing cupboards, and faftening fhelves; and my houfe has the appearance of a fhip flored for a voyage acrofs the Atlantic.
I had often obferved that advertifements fet her on fire, and therefore, pretending to emulate her laudable frugality, I forbade the newfpaper to be taken any longer; but my precaution is vain; I know not by what fatality, or by what confederacy, every catalogue of genuine furniture comes to her hand, every advertifement of a warehoufe newly opened, is in her pocket-book ; and fhe knows, before any of her neighbours, when the ftock of any man, leaving off trade, is tobe fold cheap for ready money.
Such intelligence is to my dear one, the firen’s fong. No engagement, no duty, no intereft, can with-hold her from a fale, from which fhe always returns congratulating herfelf upon her dexterity at a bargain; the porter lays down his burden in the hall, fhe difplays her new acquifitions, and fpends the reft of the day in contriving where they fhall be put.
As fhe cannot bear to have any thing incomplete, one purchafe neceffitates another; fhe has twenty feather-beds more than fhe can ufe, and lately another fale has fupplied her with a proportionable number of blankets, a large roll of linen for fheets, and five quilts for every bed, which fhe bought, becaufe the feller told her, that, if fhe would clear his hands, he would let her have a bargain.
Thus, by hourly encroachments, my habitation is made narrower and narrower; the dining-room is fo crouded with tables, that dinner fcarcely can be ferved; the parlour is decorated with fo many piles of china, that I dare not come within the door; at every turn of the ftairs, I have a clock, and half the windows of the upper floors are darkened, that fhelves may be fet before them.
This, however, might be borne, if fhe would gratify her own inclinations without oppofing mine. But though contrary to my tafte, fhe condemns me to live upon falt provifions. She knows the lofs of buying in fmall quantities: we have therefore whole hogs, and quarters of oxen; part of our meat is tainted before it is eaten, and part is thrown away, becaufe it is fpoiled; but fhe perfifts in her fyftem, and will never buy any thing by fingle pennyworths.
The common vice of thofe who are ftill grafping at more, is to neglect that which they already poffefs; but from this failing my wife is free. It is the great care of her life that the pieces of beef fhould be boiled in the order in which they are bought; that every feather-bed fhould be lain on in its turn; that the carpets fhould be taken out of the chefts once a month, and brufhed, and the rolls of linen opened now and then before the fire. She is daily enquiring after the beft traps for mice; and keeps the rooms always fcented by fumigations, to deftroy the moths. She employs workmen, from time to time, to adjuft fix clocks that never go, and clean five jacks that ruft in the garret; and a woman in the next alley, lives by fcouring the brafs and pewter, which, when fcoured, are only laid up again to tarnifh.
She is always imagining fome diftant time in which fhe fhall ufe whatever fhe accumulates: fhe has four looking-glaffes, which fhe cannot hang up in her houfe, but which will be handfome in more lofty rooms; and pays rent for the place of a vaft copper, in fome warehoufe, becaufe, when we live in the country, we fhall brew our own beer.
Of this life I have long been weary, but know not how to change it; all the married men, whom I confult, advife me to have patience; but fome old bachelors are of opinion, that, fince fhe loves fales fo well, fhe fhould have a fale of her own; and I have, I think, refolved to open her hoards, and advertife an auction.